Getting started in design (newbie advice)

Most folks start with one of the Box Generator programs and Inkscape. (Unless you already have Illustrator or CorelDraw.)

Tutorials are in the Matrix, and links to the various Box Generator programs are here on lines 83-89.


First sketch it out on paper. Even a crude drawing will make you think about how the parts need to fit together. Will you use layers to achieve your goal? How will you join the parts? Browse for inspiration.
Think it through first using tools easy for you… I like a pencil and pad.

Only tackle the technical aspects once you have a clear vision… You’ll run into problems you’ll need to adjust for, but you’ll have a firm foundation.


The movie proved unhelpful (though fun to rewatch). :wink:

Thanks for the spreadsheet link!


For boxes specifically, I like OnShape. This is the tutorial I used to get started.

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When anyone asks me how to make a fan, I always give the same advice - find a cheap fan.
Take it apart, then copy each of the pieces in turn, as best as your skills allow.
Rebuild the original one, then assemble your own.

Now your a fan maker.

John :upside_down_face:


ROFL! Had to stop and think about the movie reference. :smile:

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I use this box generator…

Then I use an SVG editor to make my changes. In your case I would start with a closed box and delete the top piece and remove the slots along the top edges. Then once you get the hang of it you might want to get fancy and try a hinged top.


A box from scratch is not a beginner project, IMHO. Use a generator, and modify what it gives you.

One of our members sells box plans, and they look pretty nice.


The box generator suggested by @bwente does have options for dividers. Lots of folks use that one so if you run into trouble just give us a shout.


What is a newbie-friendly editor? Inkscape?

My experience with editing comes solely as an observer. For example, The Matirx has good editing: tight, crisp, not much extraneous, but you don’t lose track of the story either. Also the combats are easy to follow despite the complexity.

What this has to do with making a box is unclear to me. Maybe I took the wrong colored pill.



The Matrix is what we call that spreadsheet I sent you the link to. It’s one of five spreadsheets that cross reference a lot of very handy reference tutorials.

You can read about it, and find all of the links to the spreadsheets in one place here: First post by Dan in the Tips and Tricks category of the forum:

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Aha! I missed that post entirely. Exactly the kind of thing I was looking for too. Thanks so much.

Inkscape is my main design tool for the Glowforge. As a beginner, you might want to use the festi box maker to get a start rather than learning how to install and debug the boxmaker extensions that are made for Inkscape.

Engrave a slot for a lid to slide in and out isn’t that hard. It’s just a filled rectangle with no stroke definition.

I have a video on YouTube that goes through making a Kleenex cover box in Inkscape which might help. It’s a little tedious in the narration.

And just keep posting your questions and design steps here and we’ll give you any help we can.

3 Likes is magic. This should keep me busy for a while.

BTW, what is a good, low-cost material type for a functional, but not-on-display box?

These designs looks great too. Thanks!

Cardboard is a great prototyping material, especially if you can find some in thicknesses close to what your final material will be.

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After you have made a few boxes from a generator and want to start getting creative, run through my Fusion tutorials in the matrix. The will run you through never seeing Fusion 360 to making a simple box. From there, you can start to experiment and watch youtube videos and everything blooms from there.

BTW, 1/8 Baltic birch does great for making utility boxes and trays. I buy the stuff by the box off of amazon. 1/4" for heaver duty.

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Cardboard covered with decorator duct tape is pretty amazing for boxes that can withstand some banging around. Another thing I have done is cover a box in wallpaper. The wallpaper is pretty tough and makes for some good stuff.

Easy to is use decorator contact paper. A little more expensive, but does the job well for cardboard.

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